Are you looking for us? We are ordinary!
I recently found and posted on Facebook a wonderful announcement of a rather large church of a rather large city announcing a rather large innovation—multigenerational fellowship! That is, fellowship opportunities where older church members would actually be joined by younger church members in opportunities to develop relationships and enjoy fellowship together. And all of a sudden I began to think maybe we are cutting edge after all…we have been doing this for years. But after the swell of pride and the excitement of being ahead of the “big-boys” passed I slipped back into the reality that we are just an ordinary church. And once there, I was able to again rejoice in our ordinariness.
We are ordinary and love it. And even though from time to time we find ourselves doing things that others advance and publicize as new methods we are glad to confess that we are not much interested in finding new methods since we are thoroughly convinced that God has and will work through what we call the ordinary means of grace. That is, those means He has designed to reach the lost and disciple the Christian. We are lovers of the ordinary preaching and teaching of the Bible, the ordinary use of baptism and the Lord’s supper, and prayer—much prayer.
The Ordinary ministry of God’s Word
Without supersizing, bedazzling or fancying up in any way, we believe that the Bible clearly teaches that Bible teaching, especially the preaching of the Bible, is the focus of biblical ministry. We have two sermons on Sunday, various Bible studies throughout the week, and a community that values both personal and group studies of God’s Word. Our worship services are Bible rich and our church is committed not only to the doctrine of biblical inspiration but also to a practice that reflects that we really do believe that the Bible is God’s Word.
The Ordinary use of baptism and the Lord’s supper
We are not talking about “magic rituals” or some mechanical vending machine like religious activity where if you do “the thing” required, you get the reward. But we are talking about something important, meaningful, and effectual.
Concerning baptism, as a sign and seal of the covenant of grace it is a testimony and a promise from God concerning the salvation of believers and their children. And while the questions that often arise about infant baptism require longer answers than this little article can afford I can insert a couple of thoughts. First, we do not believe that baptism regenerates or justifies any. Second, we do believe that God regenerates and justifies and at His direction we use this witness of water while trusting Him to make use of it as we point child and adult to the God who saves.
The Lord’s supper, a meal of bread and wine, is also a vital part of our church life and a means by which our God feeds and nourishes our souls as He again presses the truths of redemption into our hearts and minds. Much like our making use of the preaching of God’s Word, this simple ordinance is effectual for those who come to the table believing in the work of Christ.
These two ordinances which we sometimes refer to as sacraments are the only two sacraments that the church has been given and they are a regular part of our worship.
Ordinary prayer as a focus of church life
Church history shouts with a singular voice that at every place where reformation and revival can be found there is found also a whole lot of preaching and a whole lot of praying. Prayer is always at the foundation of God’s great works and ought to be a focus of church life always and everywhere.
We not only press the importance of prayer through our teaching and preaching but intentionally make it a part of our worship and every part of our lives together. Believing that God is the one that must change hearts and shape the world we believe our hope is in Him.
Church life is the context of these means
The Lord has given to His church ordinances by which he communicates to us the benefits of redemption, especially Word, sacraments, and prayer; all which are made effectual to the elect for salvation. (see Shorter Catechism # 88) It is in the context of the body of Christ, the church, that these blessings are unfolded and where God makes use of them to grow our love for Himself and our love for each other.
We are this kind of ordinary. Our church life and gathered worship is saturated by these ordinary means. Of course there are other distinctions that we do not count as essential that may interest you. Our worship style would be called traditional and we do enjoy singing hymns. Our order of service or liturgy would reflect the practices of Presbyterians for several centuries with a morning service that is more formal and an evening service that is less formal. While new buzz words like “empowered corporate worship” run their courses through worship discussions we are content to do the ordinary and describe it in those historic terms. And concerning our views on cultural transformation, we believe that it is the church’s ministry to win the lost and disciple the saved. Our hope of transforming the culture is through the sending of mature believers into that culture as witnesses for Christ.
While we very much want to reach out to all aspects of our community—of every age and of every group, we do not believe that trying to customize a new service type or ministry approach is the best path. We believe that God makes use of Word, Sacraments, and prayer to do His work and that those who delight in the ordinary will feel at home here even if other preferences exist unanswered, for these thing are the things that matter and these means are the means that change lives and churches.
If you are looking for a church that is ordinary, we might be an answer to your search. We do not spend our time or energy looking for something new even though our unwillingness to be a “theologically fashion conscious” church may from time to time find us “in style” much like the return of bow ties have pressed a few into fashionableness, like our new designation as a multigenerational fellowship. We, however, continue to ask ourselves very simple questions about how we can do what the Bible tells us to do. If you are looking for a church that is not overly interested in impressing you but rather has its sights set on doing what God has called it to, this may be your church and you can find us at www.fifthstreetpca.org and at 1616 East Fifth Street, Tyler TX. We ordinarily worship on Sundays at 11:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. We would love to have you join us this Sunday.